Occupy Update… featuring Hedges, Grayson, Stiglitz, assorted agent provocateurs, and those vampire squid with their relentlessly jamming blood funnels

The developments around the Occupy movement are occurring so quickly now that it’s hard to keep track. I’d like to be able to share things as they happen, but, given the realities of life, and the fact that this blog is just a one man operation, I don’t think that’s going to happen. With that said, though, I do promise to pass along the best of what comes my way, and start new threads as often as possible, so that those of you who read the site and leave comments can share information, especially as it relates to current events in Southeast Michigan. And, with that by way of introduction, I’d like to start tonight’s post with this video of Pulitzer winning journalist Chris Hedges being dismissed as a “left wing nutbar” by the Canadian broadcaster Kevin O’Leary, host of the CBC’s “Inside the Business World” program.

And, here, thanks to the folks at the blog Creekside, is a bit of the transcript:

CBC CO-HOST: Well Kevin made this point that nobody knows what they want. What do you say to that? We know that this is a very diverse group, there are many different agendas at play… what is the sense you have of what this movement would like to see happen?

HEDGES: They know precisely what they want ; they want to reverse the corporate coup that’s taken place in the US and rendered the citizenry impotent and they won’t stop until that happens and frankly if we don’t break the back of corporations, we’re all finished anyway since we’re rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for survival. This is literally a fight for life – it’s that grave, it’s that serious. Corporations, unfettered capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, is a revolutionary force – it commodifies everything – human beings, the natural world which it exploits for profit until exhaustion and collapse. The bottom line is we don’t have much time left – we are on the cusp of perhaps another major banking crisis in Europe, defaults in Greece, followed by Spain, Portugal. There’s been no restrictions, no regulations on Wall Street – they’ve looted the US Treasury, they’ve played all the games that they were playing before and we’re about to pay for it all over again.

O’LEARY: Listen don’t take this the wrong way but you sound like a left wing nutbar. If you want to shut down every corporation, every bank, where are you going to get a job? Where are you gonna work? Where’s the economy gonna go?

HEDGES: Corporations don’t produce anything and…

O’LEARY: Oh really!?

HEDGES: No. Financial corporations on Wall Street…

O’LEARY: Are you driving a car to the protest?

HEDGES: They are speculators. I’m talking about the financial institutions like Goldman Sachs. They don’t manufacture, they don’t make anything – they gamble, they use money, and they believe falsely that money is real as we dismantle our manufacturing base and send jobs over the border to Mexico and finally into the embrace of China.

CBC CO-HOST: Well I see that you and Kevin could get into an actually huge argument here.

HEDGES: Well you know I don’t usually go on shows where people descend to character assassination. If you want to discuss issues, that’s fine but this sounds like Fox News and I don’t go on Fox News. Either you discuss the issues and… look, you have had very eloquent writers – people like John Ralston Saul in Canada who have laid this out with incredible lucidity – and to somehow attack this critique by calling someone a nutcase engages in the kind of trash talk that’s polluted the corporate airwaves…

And, speaking of unprofessional conservative “journalists,” I also just read a piece in the Washington Post on an assistant editor at the American Spectator magazine by the name of Patrick Howley, and his successful infiltration of a group protesting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum yesterday. It would appear that he not only worked his way into the group, but was responsible for escalating their confrontation with security guards to the point that the museum was shut down.

Howley later wrote on the Spectator’s website, “What began on Wall Street is now spreading, and the question still remains: is it dangerous? Socialist indoctrination methods are surprisingly effective.” As he was the only one, by his own admission, to rush past guards, into the museum, it would seem to me that his conservative methods were actually the most effective, but, unfortunately, most people hearing about this particular protest won’t know about the role he played, as his column has since been removed from the American Spectator website, and no other media outlets covering the protest noted his presence.

I know folks on the left tend to sound paranoid when they talk of the possibility that their ranks, at otherwise peaceful protests like this, could be infiltrated by agent provocateurs, but it does happen, and this should be a reminder of that fact.

OK, and as long as I’m sharing videos, here’s another good one. This is of former U.S. House member Alan Grayson on the set of Bill Maher’s show, explaining, like Hedges did above, why our fellow Americans are taking to the streets.

Here’s a clip:

GRAYSON: Now let me tell you about what they’re talking about. They’re complaining that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person’s been indicted or convicted for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth accumulated over two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well.

The people in the corporate media can try as they might to explain this movement away as the antics of a few naive bongo players, or worse, some kind of anti-American cabal, but the facts are getting out in spite of them. This movement isn’t about class warfare – it’s about accountability. No one, Chris Hedges included, is saying that we need to completely dismantle the free enterprise system. What they are saying, though, is that we all have to play by the same rules, and that those who try to subvert the system for their own personal gains should be prosecuted. This is about ending loopholes and sweetheart deals for corporations who employ armies of lobbyists and accountants in order to ensure that they can avoid paying the same taxes that the rest of us are compelled to. This, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said a few days ago to those occupying Wall Street, is about ending anti-competitive practices under which losses are socialized and gains are privatized.

STIGLITZ: We bailed out the banks with an understanding that there would be a restoration of lending. All there was was a restoration of bonuses. Unless we deal with the anti-competitive practices with the reckless vending and speculative behavior, with the anti-competitive practices, unless we restore demand to the function it should serve, we won’t have a robust recovery.

What could be more capitalistic than that, right?

But the folks on the right aren’t going to give up easily. They’re going to fight. They’re going to keep sending out their hired guns, like Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King, to paint these friends and neighbors of ours who are in the street as “anti-American.”

KING: The fact is these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they’re doing out there… They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It’s a ragtag mob basically.

And, that, I’m afraid, is where I’m going to have to leave you for the night, as the cough syrup is beginning to make its way into my bloodstream. I’m sure there will be more to follow in the days to come, though.

Also, if anyone is planning to head to Detroit tomorrow, to participate in the first Occupy Detroit planning session (Monday, October 10, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at 1519 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) I’d love to hear about it.

[The “Fight the Vampire Squid” image above comes from Molly Crabapple. I found it in a delightful post on the Mother Jones website about the historical use of octopi to convey capitalistic overreach. Her use of “vampire quid” can be traced back to a quote from Matt Taibbi, who once described Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”]

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  1. Posted October 10, 2011 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    “This movement isn’t about class warfare – it’s about accountability.”

    No, it is about class warfare: the class warfare over the last 30-some years waged by the rich against the working-class/middle-class. It’s just that few people have been fighting back until now.

  2. Posted October 10, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    This is about ending loopholes and sweetheart deals for corporations who employ armies of lobbyists and accountants to ensure that they can avoid paying the same taxes that the rest of us are compelled to.

    Some people are saying that, yes. Others are saying this needs to go beyond obscure policy tweaks — honestly, how many of those on http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ do you think would tell you that, yes, reinstating the Glass-Steagell banking separations would address their issues?

    There are plenty of critiques out there of OWS and the policy prescriptions that Stiglitz and similar provide for their complaints. Some of these deal with broader issues of power in American society — people who note that they don’t want their future back, they want a future period, and didn’t necessarily have that to lose. Or “Decolonize Wall Street” commentary on the issues of America as a colonial nation built on the backs of indigenous people, that don’t see any discussion of these issues in the OWS movement.

    Others come from an explicitly anarchist perspective, e.g. CrimethInc’s Dear Occupiers: a letter from anarchists — which includes a note to not dismiss any and all lawbreakers as agents provacateurs, “This allegation is typical of privileged people who have been taught to trust the authorities and fear everyone who disobeys them.”

    I’m not going to point to any of these as “the right” interpretation of OWS, but I’ll agree that the problems we face as a society probably go beyond what Stiglitz’ choice of fixes would actually fix.

  3. Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Krugman described the right wing reaction well…

    “The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.”


  4. Edward
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    What the Republicans mean by class warfare is poor people taking to the streets and demanding the wealth of the rich. I don’t think that’s what this is about, and I don’t think, as satisfying as it may feel, it’s a term that we should embrace. If we’ve learned anything from the Republicans over this past decade, it’s that the words you use have weight and meaning (see death tax, war on terror, patriot act, etc) . I think this is about responsibility and accountability.

  5. Meta
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Krugman from yesterday’s NYT:

    It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

    And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.

    Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

    Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.

    Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.

    And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”

    The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

    Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

    And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical — it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

    But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

    What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

    Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

    This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

    So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.


  6. Mr. X
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I was just thinking back on all those instances of people bringing firearms to Tea Party rallies and how Republicans and Libertarians defended them, saying that it was their right. Can you imagine what would happen if people started bringing guns to these “Occupy” events, and how that would be greeted in the press, and by those who told us that it didn’t mean anything when members of the Tea Party carried weapons?

  7. Eel
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    We should put a giant octopus/squid at the top of Ypsi’s water tower for our Occupy event, and hand out blood funnels.

  8. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    The “millionaires tax” can be brought to bear. Will the left wing really want it? Watch! They won’t ! Here is why:


  9. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    My, my! The world is watching and they are laughing at the barbarians who occupy the streets of filth and fecal matter. Typical! Take your grips over to the White House because that is where the problem lies. Not at Wall Street. It was a Democrat who “introduced” Wall Street to the “system”.


  10. Robert
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Can I get a disclaimer for my comments like TaterSalad has?

  11. Maria
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Tater, I recommend therapy for your anger issues.

  12. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    No anger issues but you all will have to read this one! If it is Marxism that the Wall Street wants, it is working behind the scenes as we speak/write. Gullible to say the least one would think! There goes another $25.00 for the Scott Brown re-election campaign.


  13. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    “Stupid is as stupid does”!


  14. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Supporting “Communism” will not get the Wall Streeter any movement from Amerika will it? If Barack Obama backs the commies, then we all know where HE stands I guess!


  15. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    This Wall Street supporter brings “New Meaning” to the term “Movement” doesn’t it? Makes you really want to support what he has to say doesn’t it?


  16. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    OK, I’m voting to say goodbye to Tater. Can it happen today? I think all of his old comments should stay, though. This widespread mental illness known as Tea Partyism needs to be documented for the historical record.

  17. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    And what would your disclaimer say, Robert?

  18. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    The bums and homeless, along with wanted criminals have joined the Wall St. protesters for the Free Food, sex and drugs.


  19. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The Tea Party’s never played out this way. We picked up our trash and didn’t “bed down” on the streets and sewers to make our point. ………..and we now what our “points” were! Tater likes to keep the un-formed …….in-formed. whether it does any good or not is the real question though. Mark likes you to comment because he is capitalist with socialist tendacies. a-la………advertisers! Keep up the good work. You are using these people for something ………$$ !

  20. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Tater is saying goodbye to the ones on this website that use profanity! Are you one of them?

  21. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    For anonymus and cmadler………….”I hate stuff too” but I also “know” what I hate. How about you?


  22. Idea Man
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    We need to write a theme for this movement. It could be called Blood Funnel.

  23. TaterSalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Lets end the “loopholes” and bring this to the American people. Oh, wait! It is already going on:

    Step #1: Go to a government run public school from age 5 to 18.

    Step #2: Listen carefully to the advice of a government employee called a guidance counselor at ages 17-18.

    Step #3: Apply to state run college, accept loans from the government to pay for state run college.

    Step #4: Major in Colonial Studies, French Poetry, Transgendered Studies or Colonial Transgendered Poetry.

    Step #5: After 6-7 years of this, graduate from state run college.

    Step #6: Receive student loan payment book from government.

    Step #7: Don’t work and therefore default on loans.

    Step #8: Blame top hat wearing Wall Street robber barons for your unemployable status and loan default.

    Any questions?

  24. Edward
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    TaterSalad, are you going to take Mark up on his offer to interview you before you’re banned from the site?

  25. Maria
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Tater, if a government wants to avoid civil unrest, they need to have a happy complacent majority uninterested in politics.
    If you go talk to someone about why you get so mad and say and post such mean, ridiculous things, you would feel better, and use your energy for the greater good in a more positive way.

  26. Tatersalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Edwardo…….Mark is a pure socialist from what I gather! He has absolutely nothing I want to discuss with or about his Marxist ideology. I’m also betting that he used taxpayers money at some point to get his education from liberal educators that are scamming the system that you are so much against. Why does education at the college level cost so much? Legacy costs!

  27. Tatersalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Seems that we now have two major hypocritical groupos on both sides of the globe. Sad but true!


  28. Tatersalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Violence is coming on Occupy Wall Street and it isn’t anything to do with the Tea Party. Sad but true! These people are being led like sheep to the slaughter house.


  29. Tatersalad
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Talk about being a Hypocrite. Russell Simmons has the trophy as the “Biggest & Best” of all hypocrites. He, as a full blown Occupy Wall St. protester is charging those over the top credit card interest rates everyone is protesting about.


  30. Anonymatt
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone else concerned by the use of an octopus illustration with an anti-squid message? Cephalopods are not interchangeable.

  31. Posted October 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Actually, the vampire squid is sort of midway between octopus and squid. It was originally classified as an octopus, but now has its own order. It does kind of look like that, given some cartoon license.

  32. Mr. X
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Which one tastes great, and which one is less filling? I’m always getting them confused.

    And I like the fact that Matt is more upset about the classification than the fact that said Cephalopod is wearing a top hat.

  33. Anonymatt
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    ALL octopuses and squid “kind of” look like the illustration. The lack of webbing between the tentacles and those fin things squid have ruin it as a vampire squid illustration for me.

    I accept the extra large head and tiny top hat as artistic license. At least the illustrator didn’t put a mouth under the eyes.

  34. Anonymatt
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Mr. X, I composed my reply before seeing your follow-up.

  35. Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Obviously, Anonymatt, it is up to you to redesign the vampire squid cartoon.

  36. Anonymatt
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    The company I work for sells a lot of data to major brokerages and banks, so I can’t get involved.

    Also, I’m still pissed that someone somewhere criticized the last Monkey Power Trio cover. It’s much easier to be a critic than actually do something, so I think I’ll stick with that.

  37. Mr. X
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I’d like Marvel to develop a new super hero who tracks down and kills evil Wall Street types, bleeding them dry with a trademarked blood funnel. He’d be called the Vampire Squid. He’d also rob banks, like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

  38. Meta
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Yesterday’s Progress Report had an article on agent provocateur Howley.

    I hope people in New York this morning are on the lookout for such people.


  39. Scared Gay
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    more agent provocateurs in new york


  40. Anonymatt
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I just noticed via Matt Taibbi that the artist has a new illustration in which looks much more like a vampire squid.


3 Trackbacks

  1. […] my part not to post videos here every night of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. As I just posted video of him a few days ago, I hate to do it again, but, once you see this video of the former New York Times […]

  2. […] as for David’s comment about agent provocateurs, I know that they exist. I’ve even written about them here on the site. With all due respect to David, though, I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that the only […]

  3. […] at about this time, conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch apparently shine the sign of the relentlessly sucking vampire squid onto the steely clouds above Gotham and call our nation’s most evil industrialists to a […]

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